National convention

The UTPB choirs on their way to the national convention

Frank Eychaner, professor and head of the music department, provides direction for the choir as they rehearse with composer Julio Morales. The choir will perform several pieces by Morales at the American Choir Directors Convention in February. (Ruth Campbell | American Odessa)

Members of the University of Texas Permian Basin Choirs will travel to Cincinnati in February to participate in the US National Convention of Choir Directors. They will perform and then talk about what they performed and talk to the audience about the composers.

To his knowledge, Frank Eychaner, professor and director of the music department, said there had never been a Permian Basin choir selected to perform at the National American Choir Directors Convention.

About 47 singers will be on the trip. The convention is February 22-25.

Participating choirs will be the University Choir, the Concert Choir and the Women’s Choir, who will perform a commissioned piece.

“We have multiple choirs because of the way it works, but they’re all the same singers,” Eychaner said.

A blind application has been submitted for the convention.

“We didn’t have our name on it. We had to make the proposal and then send the recordings. We found out early in the summer that we had been selected, so we will be one of nine college choirs from across the country to participate in ACDA National,” Eychaner said.

The selection process is designed to be objective.

“Basically a panel of choral experts, which is the board, they listened to all these blind people, so they don’t know who the nomination is coming from. They only see the text. They listen to the singers, but they don’t know who it is or who’s conducting or where they’re from,” Eychaner said. “They choose the best based on what they hear, and then they find out…that’s who comes.”

Eychaner said he didn’t know what the selection said about his teaching.

“But that says we have an amazing number of amazing programs in our area that are producing very, very high quality musicians and singers that when they come here we can work together and create a really amazing product that is comparable or better than, the best programs in our country,” Eychaner said.

“So, despite the fact that we are small; despite the fact that we are rural; despite the fact that we are isolated, a choir with 30 vocal majors can beat the University of North Texas which has 1,600 majors to play at ACDA National. So he’s saying we’re doing the right things the right way,” he added.

Choir professionals come from all over the world to attend the convention, meet other important directors, hear some of the best choirs in the country and learn new repertoire. All music majors will have the chance to do the same and bring those experiences back with them.

He said the achievement is remarkable as there was no music program at UTPB in 2004. When he arrived in 2014, there were nine people in a choir.

Everyone who studies vocal music is part of the university choir, the concert choir, and many are part of the vocal ensemble, which produces musicals or operas every semester.

Composer Julio Morales recently put the choir members to the test by writing some of the pieces they will perform.

Composer Julio Morales directs one of the UTPB choirs that will be heading to the National American Choir Directors Convention in February. Morales has written several pieces that the musicians will perform. (Ruth Campbell | American Odessa)

Morales and Eychaner met in the state of Tlaxcala, where Eychaner was teaching a workshop at a choral festival.

“They invite the best teachers from all over the world, so they invited him,” Morales said.

Since then, Eychaner said, they’ve done several projects together.

“We’ve been to Tlaxcala every year since then,” Eychaner said. “Julio was teaching his own workshop this summer. Two summers ago, we held workshops across the country. »

Morales was commissioned to write three scores. Two of them – Noche and Remanso, Cancion Final – use the words of Federico Garcia Lorca, Spanish writer and poet.

The third arrangement is called Afro Blue.

Morales said he can produce his scores about once a month.

Eychaner said Morales was in demand as a score composer.

“In the future, I will write the music for a Cirque du Soleil show, and then we will have a Guinness record in Venezuela,” Morales said.

Eychaner said Morales was traveling to Venezuela to have 150,000 people sing some of his music at the same time to set a record for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Morales said he will be able to attend as a juror.

He added that he had been composing music since he was 5 or 6 years old. His grandfather was a saxophonist.

He went to the University of Vera Cruz for music education and piano. Morales then began to write.

Eychaner said they were visiting schools in and around Odessa.

“Ninety percent of my students come from five or six high schools here locally,” Eychaner said.

One of the great things about music education is that you never get to know everything.

“When you’re dealing with a new score, composed by a person with perspective, influences and passions and their own harmonic language, you get to know them. You can see them and their experiences through the music you sing” , Eychaner said.

He added that it is always an incredible privilege to sing any piece of music.

“But I think it’s even more of a privilege when you get to premiere, which is the vernacular to sing it the very first time to be able to take someone’s musical vision and get to know them intimately by singing that score, making this music with them,” Eychaner said.

Eychaner said they are also fundraising for travel.

“So if anyone would like to help out, they can find a way to donate on the UTPB music page. We will also be doing Christmas carols this year. So if a band, or a trader, or a professional organization, or a company wants us to come and sing as part of their festivities, we would love to come and spread some Christmas cheer.And at the same time, the proceeds of that will pay for the expenses of bringing our children to Cincinnati,” he added.

They will start singing as soon as they are booked.

“People might book us today,” Eychaner said.